PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s no secret that New England is a hot spot for vacationers, especially in the summer months.

That’s why the hospitality industry is ramping up efforts to hire more workers ahead of their busiest season.

Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Heather Singleton tells 12 News the industry was hit hard by the pandemic.

“We were totally crushed,” she said. “We lost all of our work force overnight.”

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training estimates that the hospitality industry lost 62% of its workforce during the first few months of the pandemic.

Those businesses have been rebuilding ever since, and even though the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, Singleton said businesses are still struggling to fill open positions.

The hospitality industry’s workforce is down more than 7% as of last March, according to the DLT, meaning staffing is slowly returning to normal.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean businesses are fully staffed.

“It is not as bad as last year, but we still need help,” she said. “I think what is good about the hospitality industry is that there are very few barriers to employment, so you don’t need an advanced degree.”

Those looking for hospitality opportunities in Rhode Island can click here.